Light From the Altar – 150 Facts in Catholic Church History Explained

No. 1.

Question: What is the Church?

Answer: The Church is the congregation of the faithful, who, being baptized, profess the same faith, partake of the same Sacraments and are governed by their lawful Bishops under one visible head, the Pope.

No. 2.

Question: How did Christ prepare for the establishment of His Church?

Answer: He chose twelve Apostles to whom He gave power to preach and to teach, to baptize, to offer sacrifice, to forgive sins and to administer the other Sacraments. To them he said: “All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth; as the Father hath sent me, I also send you. Going, therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28)

No. 3.

Question: Name the twelve Apostles.

Answer: Simon, afterwards Peter, and Andrew, his brother; James (the Elder) and John, his brother, sons of Zebedee; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew; James (the Less) Simon Zelotes, Jude the brother of James, and Matthias.

No. 4.

Question: In what words did Christ give the primacy to Saint Peter?

Answer: “Thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church. I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith fail not, and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren. Feed My lambs; feed My sheep.”

No. 5.

Question: What did the Apostles do after the Ascension?

Answer: They returned to Jerusalem, and in prayer and seclusion awaited the coming of the Holy Ghost. The treason and death of Judas had left their number incomplete. Peter, therefore, exercising his supreme jurisdiction, advised the Apostles to select from among the Disciples some one to fill the vacancy. Two names were proposed, Matthias and Barnabas: lots were east and the choice fell upon Matthias. Ten days after the Ascension, the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire.

No. 6.

Question: What Jewish Feast was this?

Answer: The Feast of Pentecost, anniversary of the promulgation of the law on Mount Sinai.

No. 7.

Question: Give the scriptural account of the descent of the Holy Ghost.

Answer: “And when the days of Pentecost were accomplished they were altogether in one place, and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting, and there appeared to them parted tongues as it were, of fire, and it sat upon every one of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and they began to speak in divers tongues according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak.” (Acts 11:1-4)

No. 8.

Question: What did the Apostles then do?

Answer: Jerusalem was filled with Hebrews from all parts of the earth who had come to celebrate the Feast. A vast multitude assembled round the Apostles and were astonished at hearing themselves addressed in their own tongue. Peter was the first to announce the glad tidings of the Gospel. Of those who heard, three thousand were converted and thus was the Church founded.

No. 9.

Question: How did the first Christians live?

Answer: All the multitude of those who believed had but one heart and one soul. They had all things in common; there were no poor among them. Those who had possessions sold them and laid the price at the feet of the Apostles.

No. 10.

Question: What is related of Ananias and Saphira.

Answer: Ananias and Saphira sold their possessions but brought only a part of the amount to the Apostles. When Ananias falsely asserted that it was all, he was immediately struck dead. Saphira then coming in, but not knowing what had occurred, also testified falsely and was punished in the same manner.

No. 11.

Question: How were the Apostles treated?

Answer: The chief priests seeing the effects of the preaching of the Apostles, hated them as they had hated their Master before them. Saints Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin and were commanded to preach no more, but to this command they replied, “We must obey God rather than man.” Persecution, instead of intimidating them, only increased their zeal and courage.

No. 12.

Question: Who was the first martyr?

Answer: Saint Stephen, one of the seven Deacons who was stoned to death.

No. 13.

Question: Who was the most remarkable of his persecutors?

Answer: A young man named Saul, afterwards known as Saint Paul.

No. 14.

Question: Give a brief account of the conversion of Saint Paul.

Answer: After the death of Saint Stephen, having obtained letters from the high priest, Paul set out for Damascus, breathing hatred and persecution against the followers of Christ. On the road a flash of light suddenly struck him blind and threw him from his horse to the ground; at the same time he heard a voice saying: “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” And he, astonished, said: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” And the Lord said to him: “Arise, go into the city and there it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Thereupon he was led to Ananias, by whom his sight was restored, and a few days after his baptism, he began to preach boldly the Doctrine of Christ. He preached in Arabia and Greece and is known as the Great Apostle of the Gentiles. He suffered martyrdom in Rome in 69.

No. 15.

Question: Before dispersing, what did the Apostles do?

Answer: They composed the Apostles Creed which contains twelve articles. It is in this Creed we find the first mention of the name of the Church founded by Christ, the Holy Catholic Church.

No. 16.

Question: Where did Saint Peter go?

Answer: He went first to Antioch (A.D. 38-44), then to Alexandria, thence to Rome where he permanently established his See, as Supreme and Visible Head of the Church.

No. 17.

Question; When was the first Council held?

Answer: In Jerusalem, A. D. 51. In this Council the Gentile converts were declared exempt from the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law. After there had been much disputing, Saint Peter, who presided, pronounced the decision in the name of the Church “and all the multitude held their peace.”

No. 18.

Question: Was the Gospel preached to the nations before the death of the Apostles?

Answer: Yes; Saint Thomas carried it to India, Saint John to Asia Minor, Saint Bartholomew to Greater Armenia, Saint Matthew to Persia, Saint Simon to Mesopotamia, Saint Jude to Arabia, Saint Matthias to Ethiopia, Saint Philip to Asia, Saint James the less to the Jews, Saint James the elder to Spain.

No. 19.

Question: Was the Bible the sole Rule of Faith for the first Christians?

Answer: No; for at least the first century the Bible was not complete, and the faithful received the rule of faith by tradition; hence, Saint Paul writing to the Thessalonians, says: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have learned whether by word or by our Epistle. (Thessalonians 2:14) Saints Peter and Paul never saw the whole of the New Testament. Moreover, some of the Epistles written by the Apostles are lost. The Bible can not be received as the sole rule of Faith, for it does not contain the entire revelation of God. It nowhere tells us how many Divine Books there are, and which they are; if we did not know this from Tradition we should not even have a Bible. The Apostles, through whom the revelations of Christ came to us, were commissioned to teach, not to write.

No. 20.

Question: By whom is the Divine Doctrine kept pure and incorrupt?

Answer: By the infallible teaching body of the Church.

No. 21.

Question: Who compose the infallible teaching body of the Church?

Answer: The Pope and the Bishops united with him.

No. 22.

Question: Who assures us that the Church cannot err?

Answer: Christ Himself, in His three-fold promise. First, that He will be with her even to the consummations of the world. Second, that the spirit of the Truth will abide with her forever. Third, that the gates of hell will not prevail against her.

No. 23.

Question: How is the Bible Divided?

Answer: Into the books of the Old and New Testament.

No. 24.

Question: Name the books of the Old Testament.

Answer: Twenty-one Historical Books, seventeen Prophetical Books and seven Moral Books.

The Historical Books are: The Pentateuch, or five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy); the Book of Josua; the Book of Judges; the Book of Ruth; the four Books of Kings; the two Books of Paralipomenon; two Books of Esdras; the Book of Tobias; the Book of Judith; the Book of Esther and the two Books of the Macabees.

The Prophetical Books are: Isaias; Jeremias, Barucb; Ezechiel; Daniel; Osee; Joel; Amos; Abdias; Jonas; Michaes; Nahum; Habacuc; Sophonius; Aggeus; Zacharius and Malachias.

The Moral Books are: The Book of Job; the Psalms; Proverbs; Ecclesiastes; the Canticle of Canticles; the Book of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus.

No. 25.

Question: Name the Books of the New Testament.

Answer: The four Gospels of Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; the Acts of the Apostles by Saint Luke; fourteen Epistles of Saint Paul, one of Saint James, one of Saint Jude, two of Saint Peter, three of Saint John, and the Apocalypse.

No. 26.

Question: How did Saint Paul write so many Epistles?

Answer: He was imprisoned for two years and during that time he addressed letters to the churches he had established.

No. 27.

Question: Name the four great Prophets.

Answer: Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel and Daniel.

No. 28.

Question: Why are they called “Great”?

Answer: They are so-called on account of their extensive writings.

No. 29.

Question: Who is called in Ecclesiasticus the “Great Prophet”?

Answer: Isaias; from the greatness of his prophetic spirit, by which he had told so long before, and in so clear a manner, the coming of Christ, the mysteries of our redemption, the calling of the Gentiles and the glorious establishment and perpetual flourishing of the Church of Christ; insomuch that he might seem to have been an evangelist rather than a prophet.

No. 30.

Question: Who made the first translation of the Bible?

Answer: The first translation was the Itala. Saint Jerome in 420 translated the Bible into Latin, giving us what is known as the Vulgate. It is used by the Church in her Liturgy.

NOTE – The greater part of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew. With the exception of Saint Matthew’s Gospel, written in Hebrew, the whole of the New Testament was written in Greek.

The Greek translation of the Old Testament, made at Alexandria in Egypt, about 250 years before Christ, is called the Septuagint. It is this translation that was used by the writers of the New Testament, who quote from it 300 times and only fifty times from the Hebrew. Evidently, Christ and the Apostles, from whom the early Christians received their whole religion, regarded the Septuagint as the standard version, and the Canon of the Septuagint is the Catholic list or Canon. The Protestant Canon is that of the Jewish Synogogue, hence it rejects the books of Judith, Tobias, Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, Baruch, and the two Books of Machabees. Of Protestant translations into English, King James’ Bible first published in 1611, is generally preferred.

The only version which the Church has formally approved, is the Latin Vulgate, which the Council of Trent declares, “is to be considered as the authentic Bible for official uses of teaching.” All translations into Modern languages must conform to the text of the Vulgate. The English version in ordinary use among Catholics is known as the Reims-Douay edition. It was first published partly at Reims in 1582, and partly at Douay in 1609.

No. 31.

Question: Who was the author of the first general persecution of the Christians?

Answer: Nero, during this persecution Saints Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom on the same day, June 29, A.D. 69. Saint Peter was crucified with his head downward; Saint Paul was beheaded.

No. 32.

Question: Give an account of the downfall of Jerusalem.

Answer: At Easter, (A. D. 70), Titus, son of Emperor Vespasian, began preparations for a vigorous siege. At the same time, Jews from all parts of the world were assembled to celebrate the Pasch. Their presence but added fury to the factions and revolt of the Jews. Famine and pestilence increased their sufferings. But the city was taken; the Temple was destroyed, and then was fulfilled the prophecy of our Lord, “Thy enemies shall come upon thee, and they shall east a trench about thee, and beat thee flat to the ground and thy children who are in thee, and they shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone.”

No. 33.

Question: What of the second persecution?

Answer: Domitian was the author of this persecution. It was during this one that Saint John was miraculously preserved from death, when cast into a cauldron of boiling oil.

No. 34.

Question: Name the most noted martyrs of the third persecution.

Answer: The principal martyrs of the third persecution under Trajan were Saint Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, and Saint Ignatius of Antioch.

No. 35.

Question: Give a brief account of the fourth persecution.

Answer: The fourth persecution took place under Marcus Aurelius; it was remarkable for the cruelties practiced and the number of martyrs, chief among whom were Germanicus; Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna; Saint Felicitas and her seven sons.

No. 36.

Question: Give an account of the Thundering Legion.

Answer: While engaged in a war with the Germans, the Roman army experienced a miraculous deliverance through the prayers of a Christian Legion. No sooner did they fall on their knees to pray than there fell a copious rain, which, while it refreshed them, drove furiously against their enemies, and from this circumstance the Christian soldiers who saved the Roman army by their prayers were known as the Thundering Legion.

No. 37.

Question: Who were the authors of the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth persecutions?

Answer: The author of the fifth was Septimus Severus; the chief martyrs were Saints Perpetua and Felicitas. The sixth was during the reign of Maximin. The principal martyr was Saint Catherine of Alexandria. The seventh took place under Decius. The author of the eighth was Valerian. The most distinguished Martyrs of this persecution were Pope Saint Stephen and his successors, Saint Sixtus, Saint Lawrence and Saint Cyprian. The ninth persecution was during the reign of Aurelian.

No. 38.

Question: Give an account of the tenth persecution.

Answer: For thirty years the Church enjoyed tranquillity, but it was again doomed to sanguinary persecution during the reign of Dioclesian. Many suffered for the faith. In Gaul the whole Theban Legion was put to death. Saint Sebastian and Saint Agnes were also martyred.

No. 39.

Question: Who were the Christian Apologists?

Answer: While the Roman Emperors strove to destroy Christianity by fire and sword, literature was also directed against it. The assaults aroused the Christian Doctors and Apologists who refuted pagan philosophers and left to posterity a mass of valuable writings. Saint Justin, martyr, wrote two Apologies in the first century. The great Apologists of the Eastern Church were Saint Clement and Oriyen. Saint Cyprian and Tertullian were the most illustrious of the Western.

No. 40.

Question: What were the ends which the Apologists sought to attain?

Answer: First, A refutation of false charges; Second, An appeal against the injustice of pagan treatment; Third, A demonstration of the false nature and pernicious influence of paganism; Fourth, A vindication of Christian practices and of truth.

No. 41.

Question: Who was the first Christian Emperor?

Answer: Constantine, who in a war with Maxentius was converted through extraordinary means. While marching he beheld a luminous cross in the heavens and around it these words: “In this sign thou shalt conquer.” A severe struggle ensued, Constantine was victorious, and soon after openly embraced Christianity. The decisive battle was fought at the Milvian Bridge, over the Tiber, near Rome. Maxentius was drowned in the river. Raphael commemorated the battle by a celebrated mural painting in the Vatican.

No. 42.

Question: What proof did Constantine give of his love for Christianity?

Answer: He built many Christian churches and showed greatest veneration for sacred places. His mother, Saint Helena, discovered the true cross and built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

No. 43.

Question: How was the peace of the Church disturbed?

Answer: By the disorderly conduct of her own children. Arius, a priest of Alexandria, openly denied the divinity of Christ. The Council of Nice was convened in 325, and condemned the doctrine of Arius. Pope Sylvester was represented by three legates. The Nicene Creed was published – this is the one said at Mass, – in it occur the words, “consubstantial with the Father”; in it also were first stated the four marks of the true Church – One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. At this Council the uniform celebration of Easter was fixed and it also affirmed the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.

No. 44.

Question: Who was the last pagan Emperor?

Answer: Julian the Apostate, 363. Shortly after his accession, he openly professed idolatry, and in many ways manifested his opposition to Christianity. In order to falsify the prophecy of our Lord regarding the Temple of Jerusalem, he ordered it to be rebuilt; but each time God frustrated his designs in a miraculous manner, fulfilling the prophecy of Christ through the Jews, who did not leave a stone upon a stone of the old foundation, for when they attempted to rebuild a fire burst forth and drove them away. After a reign of twenty months, Julian fell in a battle against the Persians. His last words were: “Thou hast conquered, Galilean.”

No. 45.

Question: What was the Macedonian heresy?

Answer: The heresy of Macedonius denied the divine procession of the Holy Ghost. The Council of Constantinople, (381) condemned this, declaring the Holy Ghost to be “The Lord and Giver of life, who with the Father and the Son is equally adored and glorified.”

No. 46.

Question: Give an account of the Pelagian heresy.

Answer: Pelagius, the founder of this sect, denied the existence of original sin, the existence of grace as an efficacious means of spiritual life and salvation through the merits of Christ. Saint Augustine refuted these errors, and Pope Innocent solemnly condemned them in the Council of Carthage, 418. Shortlv afterwards, the Semi-Pelagians who denied the first movements of grace necessary to any act meriting supernatural reward, partly revived them, but they too were condemned.

No. 47.

Question: What was the Nestorian heresy?

Answer: This heresy, preached in Constantinople bv Nestorius, denied the Incarnation and said the Blessed Virgin should not be called the Mother of God because she was the Mother only of the man, in whom God dwelt, as in the Prophets. This heresy was condemned by the Council of Ephesus 431. The words, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, etc.,” were added to the Hail Mary. Saint Cyril of Alexandria as representative of Pope Celestine presided.

No. 48.

Question: During this epoch of struggle with false principles, how did God console the Church?

Answer: By giving her many saints, pontiffs, doctors, orators and writers, who, under the name of “Fathers of the Church,” have left a rich treasury of merit and writings. Such men were Tertullian, Origen, Leo the Great, Lactantius, Gregory of Nyssa, the two Cyrils of Jerusalem and Alexandria, Peter Chrysologus, Eusebius and the “Great Doctor of the Church.”

No. 49.

Question: Name the Great Doctors of the Western Church.

Answer: Saint Augustine, 430; Saint Jerome, 420; Saint Ambrose, 397; Saint Gregory the Great, 604.

No. 50.

Question: Of the Eastern?

Answer: Saint Athauasius, 373; Saint Basil, 379; Saint Gregory Xazianzen (the Theologian), 390, and Saint John Chrysostum, 407.

No. 51.

Question: By what other means did God assist His Church?

Answer: By Monasticism. Monastic life was founded in the East by Saint Anthony in the third century; in the West by Saint Benedict, in the fifth century. His principal Monastery was at Mount Casino in Naples. Saint Gregory the Great, himself a Benedictine, added the pursuit of learning to the aims of the order. This order has given twenty-eight Popes to the Church.

No. 52.

Question: Give an account of the conversion of Ireland.

Answer: The year 432 beheld the arrival on the coast of Ireland of the man destined by Divine Providence to convert the whole Island. This man was Saint Patrick, who was sent by Pope Celestine to spread the faith in that country. The work of this apostle is without parallel in history. After a missionary life of thirty-three years, he left the entire island converted, the Church organized, and the people trained in the practice of Christian virtues.

No. 53.

Question: Who was Saint Leo the Great?

Answer: He was Pope during the time the Huns invaded Italy, under their king, Attila, “The Scourge of God.” This holy Pope, clothed in the insignia of his high office, met the fierce Attila, who immediately withdrew from Italy never to return. Three years later (455), Genseric, at the head of the Vandals, encamped before the gates of Rome. Saint Leo again went forth, and though the Arian king promised to spare the city from fire and sword, yet he entered and took Rome, carrying 60,000 captives to Africa.

No. 54.

Question: What Council did Saint Leo convene?

Answer: The Council of Chalcedon, 451; this council condemned the Eutychian heresy which taught that there is only one nature in Christ.

No. 55.

Question: When did France receive the faith?

Answer: In 496, when Clovis through the prayers of his Queen, Clotilde, embraced Christianity. He and three thousand of his subjects were baptized on Christmas day.

No. 56.

Question: Who was the Apostle of the English?

Answer: Saint Augustine, who was sent to them in 596 by Pope Saint Gregory the Great. By the end of the seventh century the Anglo-Saxon Church was thoroughly organized with a primate Archbishop at Canterbury.

No. 57.

Question: Who was the Apostle of Germany?

Answer: Saint Boniface, who in the eighth century converted the Germans to the true faith.

No. 58.

Question: Give an account of the rise of Mohammedanism.

Answer: While the Church labored to organize and convert the people of Europe, Mohammedanism appeared. Mohammed, its author, was born at Mecca, Arabia, in 570. At the age of forty he announced himself the Prophet of the Most High God; at first he made few proselytes and many enemies, but later he captured Mecca and imposed his religion on the greater part of the Arabians. This religion is a mixture of Jewish and Christian doctrines. Teaching both error and truth, inspired its believers with the greatest fanaticism, which blended admirably with the ardent nature of the Arabs. In less than one hundred years after the Hegira (622), Mohammedanism had made rapid strides toward the conquest of the world, and it continued for some time the most threatening enemy of Christendom.

No. 59.

Question: Give a brief account of the Monothelite heresy.

Answer: This heresy was nothing more than a modified form of Eutychianism and destroyed the Dogma of Redemption. It taught that there is but one will in Christ and not two, a divine and human will, acting in perfect harmony. It was condemned at the Third Council of Constantinople, A.D. 650.

No. 60.

Question: What was the Iconoclast heresy?

Answer: The Iconoclasts, or breakers of holy images, rejected the use of holy images and pictures, and the practice of paying them due respect. This heresy was condemned at the Council of Nice, 787.

No. 61.

Question: When did the Temporal Power of the popes begin?

Answer: It began through the helplessness of the popes to resist the incursions of the barbarians. In 751, Pepin the Short, King of France, conferred upon Pope Stephen the territory obtained from the Lombards who had invaded Italy. When Charlemagne occupied the throne of France the Lombards broke the treaty they had made; he marched against them, defeated them, and confirmed the grant made by Pepin. The Temporal Power of the Popes continued until 1870, when United Italy, by the grossest injustice, deprived them of this power.

No. 62.

Question: What of the Papacy in the tenth century?

Answer: The Papacy, the only power which the barbarous invaders of the fourth and fifth centuries were forced to respect, was trampled under foot in the ninth and tenth, by the princes who took forcible possession of Rome, and placed on the pontifical throne men favorable to their personal interests and ambitions; hence, the Church was plunged into an abyss of miseries.

NOTE – From the time of Peter down to Francis there have been 266 Pontiffs. This number comprises over sixty saints, mostly martyrs, and a multitude of great men, eminent for virtue and wisdom. There have been, however, exceptions, such as Stephen VI and John XII in the tenth century, Benedict IX in the eleventh, and Alexander VI in the fifteenth.

No. 63.

Question: What remedied these evils?

Answer: With the advent in Italy of Otho the Great, a new era began for the Papacy. Partially free to elect her own supreme pontiffs, the Church placed in the Chair of Peter pious and able popes. With the disenthrallment of the Papacy began an epoch of reformation. The Church used all her efforts against Feudalism, endeavoring to establish obedience to lawful authorities, and by the “Truce of God” tried to interrupt the perpetual strife.

No. 64.

Question: Did the faith remain intact?

Answer: Yes; in the midst of all the evils, the Papacy preserved its doctrine untainted, its faith unaltered, immaculate. Christ, who instituted the Papacy and confirmed its faith, did not promise that the successors of Saint Peter should all be Saints.

No. 65.

Question: What was the “Truce of God?”

Answer: It was a law by which all men were required, under pain of excommunication, to abstain from acts of violence and armed expeditions from Wednesday evening: until the following Monday morning. It was introduced into France, Germany, England and Italy.

No. 66.

Question: In what other way did the Church show her power?

Answer: In the reformation of ecclesiastical abuses which were very prevalent. This she obtained by means of synods and councils and by enacting reformatory statutes.

No. 67.

Question: Who were the most eminent reformers?

Answer: Among the most eminent of those who labored to reform abuses may be mentioned Pope Saint Leo IX, who refused no labor and shrank from no danger; the Cardinal, Saint Peter Damien; and the greatest churchman of all history, Hildebrand, who afterwards ascended the pontifical throne under the name of Gregory VII.

No. 68.

Question: What was the cause of trouble between Henry IV of Germany and Gregory VII?

Answer: The simoniacal investitures which were undoubtedly, the primary source of all the evils that afflicted the Church during that period. Gregory VII determined to use his utmost endeavors to suppress the abuses which had crept in among the clergy; in order to do this, he was obliged to use the most severe measures; his course made him hated in his own time, calumniated ever since, but, at the same time, it proves him one of the greatest men of all history.

No. 69.

Question: Give a brief account of this contest with Henry.

Answer: Henry IV, though highly gifted intellectually and physically, was not imbued with deep or sincere religious sentiments. In his eyes the immense revenues derived from lay investitures justified the perpetuation of the demoralizing usages of a barbarous age. He, therefore, sold Bishoprics and Abbeys to corrupt and ignorant men. Gregory appealed to Henry to discontinue this practice and to labor with him for the reformation of abuses. Henry promised much, but did nothing.

No. 70.

Question: What measures did Gregory then adopt?

Answer: He promulgated a law on investitures, and Henry, having refused to accept it, was excommunicated. Henry, after falsely accusing Gregory of crime, deposed him. When Gregory was notified of the outrageous matter, he released all Christians from fidelity to the Emperor, who, finding himself abandoned by all, submitted. At the Castle of Canossa he threw himself at the feet of Gregory and was absolved after performing a public penance of three days.

No. 71.

Question: Did this put an end to the troubles regarding investitures?

Answer: No; soon after his absolution, Henry violated all his promises. A civil war followed between Henry and his opponents and in the following year Gregory died. The struggle for Ecclesiastical liberty was continued by his successors. It was finally settled by the concordat at Worms, when Henry V, son and successor of Henry IV, consented to grant full liberty of Episcopal elections and to renounce investitures. The Pope, Calixtus II, made several concessions also.

No. 72.

Question: Who attacked the Church in England?

Answer: Henry II at the Council of Clarendon promulgated Articles destined to destroy the Church’s liberty. The Bishops were required to perform military services; ecclesiastics were subjected to civil tribunals, appeals to the Pope were forbidden, and to the kins was given undue authority in episcopal elections and in Church revenues.

No. 73.

Question: What resulted from this?

Answer: Thomas a Becket, who was coerced into signing these articles, appealed to Alexander III, who released him from his promise to observe them. After his return to England, the Archbishop excommunicated several Bishops who had aided Henry in his attacks on the liberty of the Church.

No. 74.

Question: How did Henry regard this act of Thomas?

Answer: Enraged at the Primate’s conduct, he uttered a rash oath which indicated a wish to get rid of a troublesome priest. Four knights immediately hastened to Canterbury and murdered the holy Archbishop, 29 December 1170. Henry soon repented of his rashness, made public penance for it, and solemnly repealed the Constitution of Clarendon.

No. 75.

Question: Name some of the Saints who flourished during this period of conflict.

Answer: Saint Gregory VII, Saint Bernard, Saint Norbert, Saint Lawrence O ‘Toole, Saint Felix, Saint John Hatha, Saint Isidore, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Saint Hildegard, Saint Thomas of Aquin, Saint Peter Nolasco, Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Saint Philip Benizi, Saint Bonaventure, Saint Francis Assisi, Saint Dominic, Saint Anthony of Padua, Saint Simon Stock, Saint William, Saint Louis, Saint Clare, Saint Gertrude, Saint Julian and Saint Margaret of Cortona.

No. 76.

Question: What of Monasticism during this time?

Answer: Monasticism, which had all but perished during the tenth century, was revived, and rendered valuable services to religion. God has given to His Church all spiritual power save that of making a willing sinner an unwilling saint.

No. 77.

Question: Who founded the Mendicant Orders?

Answer: Saint Francis of Assisi was the founder of the first of these Orders. Poverty the most complete was observed, for charity was its sole support.

No. 78.

Question: What other great Founder lived at this time?

Answer: Saint Dominic, who founded the Order of Friars Preachers, which was also a mendicant Order. Saint Francis, conjointly with Saint Clare, established the poor Clares for women, and Saint Dominic founded the Order of Dominican Nuns.

No. 79.

Question: When and by whom was the Greek Schism commenced?

Answer: In the ninth century by Photius, who though not a priest, took unjust possession of the See of Constantinople, in place of Ignatius, who was exiled by the Emperor. He attempted to obtain confirmation of his usurpation from Nicholas I, but failing in this, he threw off all restraint and openly declared that Constantinople had spiritual power equal to that of Rome.

No. 80.

Question: What Council was then held?

Answer: A Council at Constantinople in which the Greek Bishops condemned Photius and proclaimed the supremacy of Rome.

No. 81.

Question: Did this end the schism?

Answer: No; Photius, who, through a political revolution had been banished, was soon after recalled and on the death of Saint Ignatius was again placed in the patriarchal chair; he was again banished and died in exile; but the seed he had sown did not perish with him.

No. 82.

Question: Who consummated the schism?

Answer: Michael Cerularius, in 1054, when the Bishops of Asia joined it and broke entirely from the supremacy of Rome.

No. 83.

Question: Are the Greeks merely schismatics?

Answer: They soon added heresy to their schism, teaching that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father alone, instead of from the Father and the Son, as taught by the Catholic Church from the beginning.

No. 84.

Question: How is the Greek Church divided?

Answer: First, into the Church within the Ottoman Empire; Second, the United Greek Church; Third, the Russian Greek Church.

No. 85.

Question: To whom is the Church within the Ottoman Empire subject?

Answer: To the Patriarch of Constantinople, who is also the chief of the other three patriarchates, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. The Sultan is virtually the head of the Church, and the Bishops and Patriarchs are forced to confess that he is the supreme and final arbiter in every important dispute.

No. 86.

Question: Who formed the United Greek Church?

Answer: The United Greek Church includes the Christians who follow the general discipline of the Greek Church and also its liturgy, yet are united to the Church of Rome, admitting double procession of the Holy Spirit and the supremacy of the Pope; accepting all the doctrinal decisions of the Councils subsequent to the Greek Schism. Their usage as regards celibacy is the same as the Greeks, with the consent of the Roman Pontiffs; viz. Priests marry, Bishops do not, as they are chosen from monastic clergy. Communion is under two forms.

No. 87.

Question: Give an account of the Russian Church.

Answer: Since the time of Peter the Great, the Russian Church is governed by the Holy Synod appointed by the Czar. This Synod consists of five members, ordinarily. Archbishops or Bishops; but they may admit priests or monks; the members are named by the crown and hold office but for one year; two officials of the crown assist at all its deliberations. Synods elect bishops, but the crown confirms and grants investiture. The Greek church denies purgatorial fire, but admits an intermediate state of purgation. It has a true priesthood, valid Sacraments, but not jurisdiction, which renders Penance invalid.

No. 88

Question: What was the heresy of Berengarius?

Answer: This heresy taught that the Body and Blood of Christ are not contained in the Holy Eucharist in reality, but only figuratively. It was unanimously condemned A.D. 1078, and did not reappear until it was revived by the Protestants.

No. 89.

Question: What were the Crusades?

Answer: The Crusades were holy wars undertaken by the Christians of Europe for the purpose of freeing the Holy Land from the tyranny of the Turks. The participants wore on their right shoulder a red cross, hence the name Crusade.

No. 90.

Question: When was the first Crusade undertaken?

Answer: In 1095, under the leadership of Godfrey of Bouillon. After undergoing incredible hardships and surmounting the greatest difficulties which had been placed in their way by hostile princes, the Crusaders at length laid siege to Jerusalem, which was taken at the end of five weeks, 1099. Godfrey was proclaimed King by his army, but he refused the insignia of royalty and took the title of “Protector of the Holy Sepulchre.”

No. 91.

Question: How many Crusades were there?

Answer: There were eight; the last took place in 1270; it was led by Saint Louis, king of France.

No. 92.

Question: Were the Crusades completely unsuccessful?

Answer: The Crusaders failed to accomplish their primary object, which was the delivery of the Holy Land. Notwithstanding this, they were of the greatest benefit to the Church and to civilization.

No. 93.

Question; Mention some of their beneficial results.

Answer: They preserved Europe from the invasion of the infidels, who otherwise would have taken Constantinople and overrun all the West; they partially suspended those internal wars and dissensions which were sapping the strength of Christian nations; they were instrumental in liberating the serfs and in laying the foundation of civil liberty; they extended commerce, developed industry and added much to the world’s historical and scientific knowledge. Had they been as ably conducted as they were wisely planned, they would have been the most beneficial movement of all history.

No. 94.

Question: To what Military Order did the Crusades give rise?

Answer: To the Knights of Saint John and Knights Templars. A remnant of the former still exists at Malta, but the latter were suppressed.

No. 95.

Question: By what were the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries distinguished?

Answer: By unbounded intellectual activity; there we find the Church with the Popes using every means to promote learning among the people. To meet the general demand Universities were established in which were taught all the branches of learning. They were first under the direction of Bishops, but later were placed under immediate jurisdiction of the Popes.

No. 96.

Question: Name some of the Universities.

Answer: Those of Paris and Rheims in France; of Salerno and Bologna in Italy; of Oxford and Cambridge in England; of Salamanca in Spain; and of Lisbon in Portugal.

No. 97.

Question: Were these Universities patronized?

Answer: The number of students is almost incredible. During fifty years Oxford could count thirty thousand students within its walls.

No. 98.

Question: Name some of the great Masters.

Answer: Saint Anselm, Peter Lombard, Abelard, John of Salsbury, Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, Saint Thomas of Aquin, Saint Bonaventure, Roger Bacon and Duns Seotus.

No. 99.

Question: When did the Albigensian heresy arise?

Answer: Towards the close of the thirteenth century the Albigensians, in the southwest of France, threatened alike to destroy religious and social order. Pope Innocent III appointed special legates who were to co-operate with the civil and local ecclesiastical authorities in restoring order. In the civil-religious war which followed, horrible excesses and cruelties were committed by both parties; these are explained, without being justified, by the anarchy and bitterness of the struggle. The Catholic party triumphed, but for the ultimate success in extirpating the heresy the Church relied upon the efforts of such Apostolic men as Saint Dominic and his disciples.

No. 100.

Question: Give a brief account of the Inquisition.

Answer: The Inquisition established about this time gradually spread throughout all Europe. In England and Germany it remained an Episcopal tribunal, but in the other countries it was gradually lost to the Episcopacy. In France it was transformed into a state tribunal by Philip the Fair, who used it effectively in his warfare against the Knights Templars. In Spain, previous to the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Inquisition had almost ceased to exist.

No. 101.

Question: Was the Spanish Inquisition the same as the Ecclesiastical?

Answer: No; the Inquisition established in Spain was purely a state tribunal, all the members being nominated by the sovereign. In the hands of the kings of Spain it became an instrument, employed for the triumph of the Christian Faith; and at the same time, for the Spanish Nation over the conspiracies of the Jews and Moors. It is true that abuses crept in, but this is no reason for incriminating the Church. The jurisdiction of the Holy Office was limited to the declaration of the guilt or innocence of the accused; the penalties were according to the Criminal Code of the Country.

No. 102.

Question: Is it true that Galileo was persecuted and imprisoned by the Inquisition?

Answer: It is alleged that Galileo was persecuted for having taught that the earth moves around the sun, and this is brought forth as a proof of the Church’s ignorance, intolerance and fallibility, and of her opposition to the progress of science. Facts have been here misrepresented. It is true that by order of Pope Paul V, Galileo’s doctrines were examined in Rome in 1610, and were condemned, first by censure of the Holy Office and then by a decree of the Congregation of the Index. Having promised in Rome that he would no longer defend or teach his opinions, Galileo returned peacefully to Florence. In 1632 he again published his theory, drawing upon himself a fresh condemnation of the Holy Office with the penalty of imprisonment. This penalty was afterwards commuted to that of seclusion in the gardens of Trinita del Monte. Here Galileo was at liberty to receive visits, and he received permission to return to his country house, where he died. It may be stated that the horrors of chains, dungeons and tortures which he had to undergo at the hands of the Inquisition are but fables and calumny.

No. 103.

Question: But are not the decisions arrived at in Rome in 1616 and 1636 serious objections against the doctrinal infallibility of the Church?

Answer: We admit that the principle of these decisions is erroneous since the astronomical system condemned by them is now considered to be proved: but as regards the question of infallibility it is quite irrelevant; for the infallibility in doctrine supposes a definition of an Ecumenical Council, or of the Pope speaking Ex Cathedra, and, in the case of Galileo, such a definition never took place. And the protective Providence of God over His Church is manifested in the fact, that, at a time when the majority of theologians firmly believed the doctrine of Copernicus to be contrary to the Scriptures, the Church never solemnly refuted it.

No. 104.

Question: Give an account of the Schism of the West.

Answer: In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the period during which the Schism of the West lasted, the Church presented a spectacle of scandalous division; the schism was a hard trial, wherein the bark of Peter had more than ever to rely on the Divine protection to avoid shipwreck. History tells us that during a space of more than forty years after 1378, there were in the Church two Sovereign Pontiffs, Urban VI on one side and Clement VII on the other with their respective successors. At the beginning of the fourteenth century Pope Clement V transferred the Pontifical See from Rome to Avignon. Soon, two parties were formed, one advocating the Pope’s return to Rome, the other, his establishment in France; this gave rise to the election of Clement VII, five months after that of Urban VI, which was declared to have been null. There were, then, two Popes; both of whom having been elected by the same cardinals, might seem legitimate; hence there arose a schism among the Christian nations. But, as much as it is to be deplored, this schism did not affect) the faith. The division touched the rights of the different Popes, but not the primacy of Saint Peter, or the unity of the Apostolic See. All believed in one Visible Head of the Church, but, under existing circumstances, they did not know which was the true Pope. The schism was productive of much scandal and many abuses, and the occupants of the Papal Throne were blameworthy for their reluctance to sacrifice their own ambition and the interest of their followers for the good of the Church. But God did not abandon His Church in this extremity of peril; and the peace and order of Christendom were restored by the universal recognition of Martin V, who assumed the chair of Saint Peter in 1417.

No. 105.

Question: What was the condition of Europe at the beginning of the Sixteenth century?

Answer: In the beginning of the sixteenth century, many causes combined to render possible a successful religious struggle; these were found alike in the political, intellectual, and religious world. Political hatred ran high, and political interests absorbed all others; the tendencies of the age and the interests of the Monarchy were opposed to ecclesiastical authority.

No. 106.

Question: What were the intellectual tendencies?

Answer: The fall of Constantinople had driven many Greeks to leave the East and seek refuge at the courts of Europe, especially in Italy. They brought with them their classic tastes and there then arose a great and widespread admiration of polite literature and of the artistic perfection of antiquity, in which ecclesiastics too greatly shared. The work of the Greek authors became popular and these are largely responsible for the neglect of religion and the predominance of a most worldly spirit of intellectual pride. Two great systems of philosophy were face to face, contending for mastery in men’s minds. The one, represented by Aristotle – serious and systematic – appealed to reason; the other, by Plato – brilliant and vague – appealed more powerfully to the imagination. These discussions invaded the domain of Christian dogma; and while some labored to reconcile the philosophy of these two with the Church’s teachings, others became atheists, theists, free-thinkers and pantheists.

No. 107.

Question: What of the Church at this time?

Answer: Unfortunately, abuses had crept in, during the course of ages, and during the struggle between political rulers and the Church (resistance to which may be said always to find support in the civil powers), these abuses still existed in the Roman court, in the Episcopacy, the Clergy and the monasteries. This, in the minds of the unthinking, justified the bitter opposition to the Church. Most of the abuses came from political complications, but there certainly was much that called for the utmost efforts of those in authority to oppose. The Popes, however, were seriously crippled, and in many eases were obliged to tolerate what they could not reform. This condition of affairs prepared the way for another Arius, who came in the person of Martin Luther, an Augustinian.

No. 108.

Question: What incident served as an opportunity for Luther’s revolt?

Answer: Leo X promulgated a plenary indulgence, the alms attached to the gaining of which were to aid in completing the Basilica of Saint Peter’s at Rome. The Dominican, Tetzel, was appointed to preach the indulgence in Germany. This preference for a Dominican greatly incensed Luther, as it had been customary for the Augustinians to preach these indulgences.

No. 109.

Question: What did Luther do?

Answer: Tetzel did not avoid the abuses, which too often were in the form of dispensing and preaching indulgences. He was sharply but ineffectually rebuked for his indiscretion; then Luther assumed this as a pretext for his revolt; but he quickly proceeded from his attack on the abuses to one on indulgences themselves. He likewise attacked the doctrine of the Church concerning original sin, justification and the sacraments. By a Papal bull, his impious opinions were condemned, and this led him to assail the supremacy of the See of Rome. He rapidly fell from one error into another; he wrote against the doctrines of Purgatory, free-will and the merit of good works.

No. 110.

Question: To what did Lutheranism lead?

Answer: It lead to the most disastrous consequences, as its first principle did away with the Church; the second destroyed the moral code. Luther declared that there is no need of a special body of men set apart to dispense the mysteries of God; that every Christian may assume the functions of the priesthood. He taught also justification bv faith alone, that good works are useless. To suit his error he introduced into the Bible the word “alone” and when called on to give his reason for such a change, he replied in the words of the Roman poet Juvenal, “Hoc volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas.” – “I will it, I order it, my will is the reason thereof.” His doctrine of private interpretation and his principles of spiritual independence responded to the independence of the sixteenth century; hence, his words exercised great influence, and the so-called Reformation rapidly spread through Germany and as far North as Prussia.

No. 111.

Question: What was the Confession of Augsburg?

Answer: In 1530 the Lutheran directors published their Confession of faith, written by Melancthon. It is known as the Confession of Augsburg. It is at this time that they were first called Protestants.

No. 112.

Question: Who was Calvin?

Answer: Calvin, who is regarded as the second leader of the Protestants, was the founder of the sect which bears his name, and which spread, first in Switzerland. His doctrines are substantially the same as those of Luther. He taught that free-will had been entirely destroyed by sin; that God had created the greater part of mankind for eternal damnation, not on account of their crimes, but because such was His pleasure.

No. 113.

Question: Did Protestantism make any progress in France?

Answer: Yes; from Geneva, the teachings of Calvin spread into France and there found many adherents, especially in the parts which had been the fields of the Albigensian heresy. In France they were known as the Huguenots. During the reign of Charles IX and the regency of Catherine de Medici they caused great disorder in the realm. They held a synod in Paris, (1559) when they adopted a profession of faith and decreed death against all heretics. They labored to undermine all authority, conspired against the King and the royal family and entered into alliances with the Protestants of Germany, and with England, France’s bitterest foe.

No. 114.

Question: How did the Catholics act under this?

Answer: The Catholics of France did not submit to this treatment, but repaid cruelty with cruelty. In the civil war which devastated the country, the cruelties and excesses of the Huguenots were frequently equaled by those of Catholics, and the massacres were general on both sides.

No. 115.

Question: What of the massacre of Saint Bartholomew’s day?

Answer: By this name is signified the massacre of the Huguenots which took place in France, 24 August 1573. Religion has been held responsible for this Massacre, but it is now an indisputable fact that it was a stroke of state policy, by which Catherine de Medici, an ambitious and unscrupulous woman, hoped to annihilate the Calvinists of whom De Coligny was the soul and chief.

No. 116.

Question: Did not Gregory XIII order a public thanksgiving when he heard of the event?

Answer: He did; but history proves that Gregory was deceived, and that his action was prompted by the desire to return solemn thanks to God for the escape, as he thought, of Charles IX and the royal family from a foul conspiracy, and not to approve of an unjustifiable massacre. When he became acquainted with the real nature of the case, he loudly condemned the barbarous action in which neither he nor the clergy had any part.

No. 117.

Question: How long did the struggle in France continue?

Answer: For seventy-two years. Cardinal Richelieu put an end to it by capturing Rochelle, the last stronghold of the Huguenots. In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the edict of Nantes, and soon after adopted despotic measures to force the Huguenots into the Church, but in consequence of these rigours some 65,000 voluntarily exiled themselves from France.

No. 118.

Question: Who introduced Protestantism into Scotland?

Answer: John Knox, who during a three years’ residence in Geneva imbibed the principles and spirit of Galvanism.

No. 119.

Question: What lead to Protestantism in England?

Answer: Henry VIII applied to the Pope for a divorce from Catherine in order that he might espouse Anne Bolyn. The reason he alleged for the divorce was that his marriage was invalid. The Pope appointed two Cardinals to examine into the case, but Henry would brook no delay and married Anne. He appointed Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury, who at once declared Henry’s marriage with Catherine invalid.

No. 120.

Question: When Clement heard of this what did he do?

Answer: He reversed the decision of the Archbishop, which so incensed the King that he immediately proclaimed that the Pope had no longer any jurisdiction in England.

No. 121.

Question: Who was then at the head of the English Church?

Answer: The King assumed headship and exacted from all, under penalty of treason, an oath recognizing his supremacy. Many of those in positions of Church and State took the oath and became Schismatics at the will of the King. Henry used the most rigorous means to enforce his supremacy, and in consequence. Cardinal Fisher, Sir Thomas More, and many other prominent men were put to death. Shortly after his rupture with Rome, Henry proceeded to suppress Monasticism, which he did so effectually that religious houses were swept from the face of England.

No. 122.

Question: When was the English Church established by law?

Answer: About the year 1547, when the people were forced to receive the Book of Common Prayer, or English Service Book, which had been compiled by Cranmer.

No. 123.

Question: Did Mary Tudor succeed in reestablishing Catholicity?

Answer: Mary wished to restore England to the Catholic Church. Union with Rome was voted by both Houses and the work of Henry was legally set aside. Cardinal Pole, who was sent to England as Papal Legate, urged Mary to use pacific measures to restore the faith, but true to the principles of the Tudor instincts of cruelty, and advised by a Council of unprincipled men, she proceeded to persecute heretics and put them to death. During her reign of five years about three hundred were executed. In comparison with the two preceding reigns and that which followed, Mary’s, however, does not deserve the distinction of “Bloody.”

No. 124.

Question: Tell of the Church during Elizabeth’s reign?

Answer: As soon as she ascended the throne, Elizabeth openly avowed Protestantism; all the Bishops who refused to take the oath of supremacy were deposed and a new Episcopacy was created. The Anglican profession was revised and amended; Penal Laws were enacted and enforced, which, for despotism, cruelty, and disregard of justice, are without a parallel.

No. 125.

Question: What of Ireland during this time of apostasy?

Answer: While Germany, shaken by the powerful voice of Luther, was breaking away from the Church of Rome; while Geneva, under the merciless government of Calvin, was becoming the center of Protestantism; while the nations of the North were accepting the new Gospel; while France, tainted by heresy, was preparing for civil wars; while Scotland gladly enlisted in the cause of revolt; while England was receiving, with servile docility, the doctrines of a State Church, Ireland was girding herself for a long and glorious struggle for God, country and Holy Church. When Henry VIII wished to extend to Ireland his despotic system, he encountered a determined resistance. During the time of Edward VI, Somerset tried to introduce the liturgy of the Church of England, but failed. Elizabeth attempted the perversion of the Irish by means of a plan which brands her as the most execrable tyrant that ever desecrated a throne in Christian lands. Wholesale confiscation took place; all the terrors of famine stared them in the face; penal laws were enforced; Catholics were deprived of all rights; still they remained faithful and gave to the Church many glorious martyrs.

No. 126.

Question: What efforts did the Church make to reclaim her wayward children?

Answer: She instituted missions on the grandest scale, and sent her Apostles to the farthest parts of the earth. The Jesuits, the Providential Order of this epoch, stood in the front rank of these.

No. 127.

Question: By whom was this Order founded?

Answer: By Saint Ignatius of Loyola. in 1540. As Protestantism aimed at the destruction of the Papacy, the Jesuits bound themselves by vow to the Holy See. In a short time they succeeded in reanimating the faith among people and clergy.

No. 128.

Question: What other religious Orders labored during this period?

Answer: The Capuchins, who accomplished great good by their austere and humble life; the Oblates, founded by Saint Charles Borromeo; the Oratorians, founded by Saint Philip Neri; and the Priests of the Mission, or Lazarists, founded by Saint Vincent de Paul.

No. 129.

Question: Name some other religions Orders established during this epoch.

Answer: The Visitation, by Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Frances de Chantal; the Ursulines, by Saint Angela; the Daughters of Charity, by Saint Vincent de Paul; and the Carmelites, reformed by Saint Theresa.

No. 130.

Question: Did the Church form a Council to oppose the heretical teachings of Luther?

Answer: Yes, in 1544, Paul III opened the General Council of Trent. This Council drew up a list of the inspired books of the Bible and defined the Church’s rule of Faith. It proclaimed the dogma of the Church regarding original sin, justification, the seven Sacraments, Purgatory, and the veneration of the Saints, images and relics, also of indulgences. It gave disciplinary enactments, and, before separating, the Fathers of the Council drew up the Catechism of the Council of Trent which was given to the world during the Pontificate of Pius V.

No. 131.

Question: In what countries was Catholicity triumphant?

Answer: On all sides the Church was victorious, and triumphed in all Southern Europe; and wherever Protestantism still existed on the Continent, it was surrounded by Catholic countries which successfully opposed its further extension.

No. 132.

Question: What Saints flourished during this period?

Answer: Some of the most eminent were Pope Saint Pius V, Saints Charles Borromeo, Francis de Sales, Ignatius of Loyola, Vincent de Paul, Philip Neri, Francis Xavier, Aloysius, Francis Borgia, Stanislaus, John of the Cross, Camillus, Theresa, Jane Frances and Magdalen de Pazzi.

No. 133.

Question: Who was Saint Francis Xavier?

Answer: Saint Francis Xavier, one of the companions of Saint Ignatius, was one of the greatest missionaries of the Church. His zeal in India and Japan brought within the Church nearly one million souls.

No. 134.

Question: What resulted from the labors of Saint Francis in Japan?

Answer: The good seed sown by Saint Francis in Japan and cultivated by the laborers he left after him, brought forth such abundant fruit that by the year 1582 were found two hundred thousand Catholics. As elsewhere, however, the Missionaries met with strong opposition. Persecution broke out and continued with slight interruptions until the last vestige of Christianity was destroyed in the Empire. In a period of seventy years nearly two million Christians received the Crown of Martyrdom. In dying, Saint Francis bequeathed to his Order his own ardent desire to enter and Christianize China. The Jesuits, notwithstanding the many obstacles that arose, succeeded at length in entering the Empire. But their Missions, though wonderful in their immediate success, were nearly all destroyed in the seventeenth century. However, God consoled His Church by sending her vast multitudes of souls in the New World. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries her devoted Missionaries established the faith in all South and Central portions of North America.

No. 135.

Question: Name some of the most noted Missionaries of America.

Answer: Saint Louis Bertrand, Blessed Peter Claver, Saint Francis Solano, Brebeuf, Lallemant, Jogues and numberless other members of the great Religious Orders, Jesuits, Franciscans, Augustinians, etc.

No. 136.

Question: To what may the social and political Revolution of the eighteenth century be ascribed?

Answer: The political and social Revolution in Europe which culminated in the French Revolution was the last deduction from the principles of the Reformation. The denial of the Divine authority of the Church naturally led to the denial of all human authority in the State. In France the spirit of rebellion against the Church had been nurtured by the Huguenots, and after their defeat, by the Jansenists.

No. 137.

Question: Who were the Jansenists?

Answer: They were followers of Jansenius, a French Bishop of the seventeenth century. Under a hypocritical show of piety, they taught the most gloomy and despairing heresies. They maintained absolute predestination, that Christ died only for a few, that crime cannot be avoided, in fine, that man is the mere sport of the anger of God.

No. 138.

Question: What was the condition of the Church during the French Revolution?

Answer: The hatred and animosity of the Revolutionists cannot be imagined. Hundreds of French clergy were cruelly massacred while thousands found safety only in flight. Christianity was abolished and the worship of Reason proclaimed. In 1795 the Directory came into power, and at once manifested the strongest opposition to the Papacy, demanding the revocation of the dogmatical and canonical decrees of Pius VI regarding the Church of France, but the Pope refused to make the slightest concessions in matters of faith and morals. The Vatican was invaded, the Pope taken prisoner and carried to Valence in France where he died in 1799. The enemies of the Church boasted that they had buried the last Pope, but in a few months the Chair of Saint Peter was occupied by the illustrious Pius VII.

No. 139.

Question: Give a brief account of the trouble between Pius VII and Napoleon.

Answer: The year 1801 witnessed the opening of the churches and the restoration of Catholic worship in France. Knowing full well the impossibility of re-establishing civil order without religion, Napoleon opened negotiations with the Holy See, and the agreement secured only by extensive concessions on the part of the Pope was embodied in the famous Concordat. In 1804 Pius VII crowned Napoleon Emperor of France. He consented to this in the sole hope of promoting the interests of religion, but he was disappointed. Napoleon forged new fetters for the church – might overcame right. In 1808 Napoleon desired Pius VII to join in the Continental System, to give his sanction to the spoliation of Naples, to the divorce laws of the Code Napoleon, and to other measures which the Common Father of Christianity could not approve. On receiving his authoritative and decisive refusal. Napoleon ordered the French troops to occupy Rome. Napoleon issued a decree which transformed the Papal States into French Departments, and the Pope signed a Bull of excommunication against Napoleon and his agents. Pius VII was banished from Rome. In 1812 he was conveyed to Fontainebleau but energetically condemned the aggressions of Napoleon. Before long, the ruling of a Higher Power decided the contest. While Napoleon was on his way to his first exile Pius VII made his triumphal return to Rome.

No. 140.

Question: What characterizes the history of the Church during the Nineteenth century?

Answer: The nineteenth century seems to be an epitome of all past ages, and is peculiar in the wide and erratic range of its tendencies. But deprived of temporal supremacy, of diplomatic influence and of material wealth, the Church is again what she was during the decline of the Roman Empire, the one and the great moral power in the world.

No. 141.

Question: Name the Popes of the Nineteenth century.

Answer: Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII. Pius VII spent the last years of his reign in trying to remedy the evils resulting from the French Revolution. Leo XII continued the work of his predecessor, reorganized the Church of South America and restored many of the Eastern Churches to the unity of the faith. Pius VIII did much for the persecuted Armenian Catholics and established for them the Archepiscopal See in Constantinople. Gregory XVI ascended the Pontifical Throne immediately after the revolution of 1830. His administration was characterized by firmness, fortitude and prudence.

No. 142.

Question: What was the celebrated Oxford Movement?

Answer: The Oxford or Tractarian Movement began in 1833, when a number of Oxford professors endeavored to start a reform in the established Church. Pusey and Newman were the acknowledged leaders and their “Tracts for the Times” soon attracted the attention of the whole country. The Tractarians drew their inspiration from the works of the Ancient Fathers; this naturally led them to Rome. Pusey and his adherents however deprecated any union with the Catholic Church, but Newman made a complete submission to Rome in 1845. His example was followed by a large number of distinguished persons, among them may be mentioned, Ward, Faber, Oakley, Manning, etc. Within a few years the number of converts swelled to many thousands; several hundred of these had been Anglican Ministers. But the chief result of the Oxford Movement was to dispel much of the deep-seated prejudices that had existed, not only in England but also throughout the English-speaking world. In 1850 Pius IX re-established the Catholic hierarchy which had been suppressed for three hundred years, and Cardinal Wiseman was created Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

No. 143.

Question: What events signalized the Pontificate of Pius IX?

Answer: The long reign of Pius IX was full of trials, victories and consolations. In 1848 he was compelled by the Revolutionists to flee from Rome, but two years later he was able to return, and for several years the Church enjoyed comparative peace. In 1870 the Papal States were wrested from the Sovereign Pontiff. Rome was made the Capital of United Italy, and since then the Pope has virtually been a captive of the Italian government. However, Pius IX witnessed the revival of Catholicity throughout Europe; he restored hierarchies, re-established the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, condemned dangerous and pernicious errors, and canonized many saints. The three greatest acts of this Pontificate are the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (8 December 1854); the Syllabus of 1864, a collection of propositions which condemned the errors of the age; and the Vatican Council (8 December 1869 – July 1870). This was the first General Council since that of Trent in 1545. In the fourth public session, 18 July 1870, the dogma of Papal Infallibility was defined, thus reasserting in the most solemn way the principle of Authority in the Church. Pius IX died in 1878 and was immediately succeeded by Leo XIII.

No. 144.

Question: What of the Pontificate of Leo XIII?

Answer: Leo XIII is universally admitted to have been one of the greatest Pontiffs that ever sat in the Chair of Saint Peter, and it is to be doubted if there ever was a time when the Papacy was more powerful or exerted a greater influence. Shorn of all its temporal domain, it is still recognized as the grandest and most influential power on earth, and recent years have afforded instances of the readiness of secular power to avail themselves of its potency. Bismarck, who in 1871 inaugurated a persecution called the “Kulturkampf” or “Conflict of Culture,” in 1878 began negotiations with Leo XIII whose prudence and justice gradually led to amicable relations between Germany and the Vatican. Leo XIII instructed the world at large concerning the sacred fundamental laws of religious, civil and domestic society and raised his voice against the enemies of social order. With a fearlessness and wisdom that come from God alone, he not only pointed out the evils of the day, but also the means by which these evils can be remedied.

No. 145.

Question: By what particular means did the Holy Father do this?

Answer: Chiefly by his famous Encyclicals, the most important of which are the following: The Condition of the Working Classes; The Evils affecting Modern Society, their Causes and Remedies; The Christian Constitution of States; The Chief Duties of Christians as Citizens; Human Liberty; Christian Marriage; Concerning Modern Errors; Socialism, Communism and Nihilism; Anglican Orders; The Reunion of Christendom; Devotion of the Holy Rosary; Devotion to the Holy Ghost; Christian Philosophy, etc., etc. In a word it may be said that Leo XIII, as far as in him lay, prepared the Church to meet the most subtle and dangerous foes of these modem days, foes which tend to make the perverted mind and will revolt against the true Church and the unchangeable doctrines of the Catholic Religion.

In February, 1903, Leo completed the years of Peter. This was the occasion of a universal Jubilee. In July of the same year, Leo was called to his reward and was succeeded by Cardinal Sarto, Patriarch of Venice, under the title, Pius X.


No. 146.

Question: When was Pius X elected?

Answer: On Tuesday morning, 4 August 1903, a message was sent from the conclave of Cardinals assembled at Rome, saying that a successor to the late Leo XIII had been elected. Cardinal Joseph Sarto, Patriarch of Venice, was the honored one. It was soon announced that the new Pontiff had chosen the title of Pius X. A great cry of joy and relief burst forth from every heart throughout Christendom.

The Cardinals met in conclave on Friday, July 31, nine days after the death of Leo XIII. They remained in session four days and balloted seven times.

When the final count showed that the necessary two-thirds of the total number of votes east had been obtained, Cardinal Sarto was asked: “Do you accept the election?” He gave a reply in the affirmative. When asked what name he chose he replied: “Pius.”

All the throne canopies were then lowered, with the exception of that of the successful candidate.

Then Prince Chigi, the master of the conclave, drew up the official act of the election and acceptance of the newly elected Pope, who retired into a small room near the altar, where he vested in the white robes of his office.

The new Pope was attired all in white with the exception of red shoes, which was quite regular, but he did not stop to remove the red Cardinal’s stockings for the white Papal ones. The secretary of the conclave, Mgr. Merry del Val, kneeling, offered him the Papal white cap, amidst breathless silence. He did not follow the precedent created by Pope Leo, who declined to give his red cap to the master of ceremonies as a sign that he would soon be created a Cardinal, but with a slight smile Pius X took the white cap, placed it calmly on his own head and dropped the red one lightly on the head of Mgr. Merry del Val, amidst a murmur of approval. This was taken as a certain indication that the happy recipient was soon to be raised to the Cardinalate.

As the new Pontiff stepped from behind the altar, he seemed to be the embodiment of his holy office. His face was pale and clearly softened by emotion. He paused a moment, as he came before the expectant Cardinals, then seated himself on the throne, to receive the “first obedience.” Then the Te Deum was intoned.

At the close of this hymn of praise Pius X rose, and in a voice at first tremulous but gradually becoming full and firm, administered the Papal blessing to all of the members of the Sacred College.

Cardinal Maechi, secretary of apostolic briefs, at noon announced to the crowd assembled before Saint Peter’s that Cardinal Sarto, Patriarch of Venice, had been elected Pope, and that he had taken the name Pius X.

At 12:10 o’clock Pope Pius X appeared inside the balcony of the basilica and blessed the people, amid the acclamations of the enormous crowd assembled.

No. 147.

Question: Give a brief sketch of the life of Pope Pius X.

Answer: Joseph Sarto was born in Riese, a village situated a few miles from Treviso, the Diocesan See. As Carpineto, before the election of Joachim Pecci to the Pontificate, was unknown to the world, so also is this little village of Riese. It lies sequestered in the middle of a gi’eat fertile plain through which the river Sile flows into the Adriatic Sea. The river has long been navigable and furnished means of communication with the outer world. Pliny speaks of Treviso as the city of towers, and mentions among the villages that of Riese. Calogera published in the last century a dissertation on the ancient inscriptions found in Treviso, with observations on inscriptions discovered in 1730 in the village of Riese. The inhabitants in and around Riese are given to agricultural pursuits and the manufacturing of silk. This latter is the principal industry.

It is told, among the inhabitants, to this day, that when Posdocim, a disciple of Saint Peter, visited Treviso, he preached the gospel to the inhabitants around that city, hence his memory is held in great benediction by all the people. History records that when Attila destroyed the city of Treviso, he laid waste the surrounding villages, among which was Riese.

Pius X was born on the 2nd day of June, 1835. His family were among the most respected in Riese. The early days of the present Pontiff were spent in careful training. When ready to enter the career he had chosen – the priesthood – he was sent to the Salesian Institute in the vicinity of Padua. Here he was an earnest pupil, retiring in his attitude, but winning honors for his studiousness and achievements.

It was this trait which brought out the remark of one of the Cardinals who watched his career, “Sarto has never been young.”

He became, after finishing his theological course and being admitted to holy orders, a parish priest His parish lay in the poorer district of Pombolo in the outskirts of Venice, and his work, apart from the study which won for him his later successes, lay entirely in the ministration to the wants of his humble parishoners.

He lived a life of austerity always, but his kindness to the poor and suffering gave him among them the title of beloved pastor.

From parish priest he was made Bishop of Mantua and from Bishop he rose to the Cardinalate, the title being conferred upon him with that of Patriarch of Venice by the Consistory of 12 June 1893.

In ecclesiastical circles he gained a great reputation as a preacher, convincing and swaying rather by absolute strength of temperament than by any oratorical powers.

He is known as an author and a patron of the arts. It was this latter characteristic that led indirectly to Pope Leo XIII declaring to Perosi, the composer, that it was to Sarto he committed the affairs of the Church, saying: “Hold him very dear, Perosi, as in the future he will be able to do much for you – we firmly believe he will be our successor.”

In the Vatican, when the talk centered upon the successor of Leo, Cardinal Sarto was mentioned, but in his quiet way he treated the matter very indifferently. In fact he declared when leaving Venice that he had purchased a return ticket.

No. 148.

Question: What was the first public act of Pope Pius X after his accession to the Chair of Peter?

Answer: He addressed his first Encyclical to the Church Universal. Among other things, he declared that in filling the duties of his exalted office, he would be nothing but the Minister of God, that the safety of society depends upon the Church and that all must nave recourse to prayer.

No. 149.

Question: Explain Pope Pius X’s famous Instruction on Sacred Music.

Answer: Pope Pius X, from his experience as a Churchman, had found that the ecclesiastical music in the Church had deteriorated and it was not used universally in the Church ceremonials. He issued a letter the Motu proprio on 22 November 1903, which was to have a binding force throughout the Church and in it he declared that the pure Gregorian Chant should be used universally and absolutely and no other. “We will,” says the Holy Father, “with the fullness of our Apostolic authority that the force of law be given to said Motu proprio and we do by our present handwriting impose its scrupulous observance upon all.” His Excellency, Monsignore Falconio, the Apostolic Delegate to the United States says: “The instruction of our Holy Father, Pius X, is clear and evident. It is directed to the whole Catholic world. No nation was exempted; and it has a juridicial and authoritative binding character everywhere upon all Catholics. “Unfortunately the edict of our Sovereign Pontiff has been received by many in this country with misgivings as to the probability of putting it into practice. I trust that this timidity will be overcome by the help and encouragement given by the happy results already in those churches where the Reverend Pastors, in obedience to the Pope’s orders, have courageously undertaken the desired reform. What has already been accomplished since the publication of the Motu proprio, in some of our American cathedrals and churches, can be accomplished in others, if the pastors will only manifest sufficient zeal and set themselves to work with earnestness and perseverance for this much-needed reform.”

No. 150.

Question: What decree did Pius X issue in the early part of 1906?

Answer: The decree on all the faithful approaching daily Communion was issued the 14th of February, 1906. It urged simply that the legislation of the Council of Trent on this subject be carried out more effectually than has hitherto been done. According to this legislation the faithful are to receive daily Communion, not merely spiritually but actually, whenever they assist at daily Mass.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. Light from the Altar, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 1 November 2019. Web. 27 February 2021. <http://catholicsaints.info/book-of-saints-/>